Wednesday, May 23, 2007

PGCon Day 3

It was actually my first day at the events yesterday, but the schedule calls it day 3 because there had already been two days of tutorials beforehand.

So, yesterday I went to these talks:

Great Steps in PostgreSQL History (Bruce Momjian)
A reconstruction of the first moonlanding using PostgreSQL. Never mind that. You had to have been there.

PostgreSQL-IE (Denise Guliato)
This is not Internet Explorer interfacing with PostgreSQL, but an image-handling extension to support content-based image retrieval, useful for example in medical applications to analyze images. Some of the details were over my head, but it seemed well thought out and appears to match and exceed in some regards what the commercial RDBMS vendors offer. With luck, this could be the next PostGIS-type success story

Execution plan optimization techniques (Tomas Kovarik and Julius Stroffek)
These guys showed up new ways to handle the search space in large joins, to replace (or work alongside) the current GEQO system. Such as using simulated annealing, if that rings a bell with anyone. What I took out of it is that we pretty much would need pluggable optimizers. It's interesting that in hallway conversations afterwards everyone I talked to pretty much spontaneously came up with a subset of the ideas presented in this talk. What we need now is some code.

PostgreSQL replication strategies (Emmanuel Cecchet)
Emmanuel is the author of Sequoia, so honestly I came here to see some Sequoia bashing from the audience. But really, this was a useful and pretty unbiased summary of available replication techniques. Unfortunately, we hear similar talks every hear — heck, I gave one two years ago — but make little progress on the actual code.

GIN in practice (Teodor Sigaev)
A very technical and insightful talk. Now I know what hstore is about. Where would we be without the indexing dream team?

There seemed to be a scheduling issue later in the day in that the dinner sponsored by EnterpriseDB already started while sessions were still in progress, which shortened the palaver and key-signing session considerably, but everyone got to voice their concerns about their non-favorite version control system or bug tracker once more, but I think most of it came down to needing more people to do the various work ahead of us.

The dinner itself didn't actually start nearly as early as announced. We got there about two hours late and nobody had gotten food yet. Bizarrely, about a dozen fellows including myself came home with their fingernails painted black. How do you get this stuff off anyway?